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Then a troop of mules and horses clattered along the
road at their morning exercise, some of them led by
turbaned Indians. I sat on a milestone and watched
the sun come out, and a thrush sang a little way off—
the first I'd heard in France. But solitude was scanty
and precious in the Army, and at half-past ten I was
We marched two miles into Lillers and entrained.
The train started at noon. Ten hours later we de-
trained at a station three miles from Amiens, We had
averaged four miles an hour, and it was now after
ten; a dark, still night, with a little rain at times.
Men, transport horses, officers' chargers, limbers, and
field-kitchens (known as "the cookers") were un-
loaded. All this took two hours. We had some tea... .
If I could taste that tea out of the dixies now I should
write it all very much as it was. Living spontaneity
would be revived by that tea, the taste of which
cannot be recovered by any effort of memory.
Fifteen minutes after midnight we moved off. It
was rumoured that we had only a few miles to go.
On we went to the steady beat of the drums, halting
for ten minutes at the end of each fifty. After the
second halt the road seemed to become more hilly.
About once in an hour we passed through a dark
sleeping village. There was a lamp hung on a limber
in the rear of the column. Twice I saw our shadows
thrown on a white wall in a village. The first time
it was a few colossal heads with lurching shoulders
and slung rifles; and a second time, on a dead white
wall, it was a line of legs; legs only; huge legs striding
away from us as if jeering at our efforts to keep going.
Movement became mechanical, and I found myself
falling asleep as I walked. The men had the weight
of their packs and equipment to keep them awake!